I have always had this weird fascination with Germany. It started when I lived in France.
“Hang on, what’s that weird, historically-ravaged, very precise and efficient land on our border?”
…You mean the one with very strange people in it? (Said a French person…)
As a result, I studied Holocaust & Cold War history the whole of second year, in the hope of learning more about why people thought plonking a wall in the middle of a city would be a plausible longterm solution – to anything.
And that polarised dichotomy one can never explain?
They can drive at whatever speed limit they want on the autobahn, and lie naked in broad daylight in the Tiergarten, and yet they are the most structured, organised, efficient, perfectionistically crazy anal bunch of gentile bastards on the planet.
This dichotomy, along with a language which is as descriptive as fuck, fascinates the hell out of me.
The foibles, the architecture, why Germans wear socks with everything and on the beach. (I swear to god – saw it on Clifton 4), and a history so tragically disastrous – you have to go there because you NEED to understand how all that crap happened.
Then there’s the emerging cultures – the East and West - and their obsession with leather overalls, gothic dress code and techno music, not to mention The Hoff who is a god there – he has, like, full-on concerts and cuts albums the whole time. For real.
And Berlin is the epicentre of all of this, in one place.
I’ve been gunning to go there and check this shit out since, well, 1989, if I look back.
Watching the news on an old black and white telly with my parents when I was 8 years old. People from East Berlin standing on the wall, breaking it down with pick axes, while jumping around in jubilation.
At 8 years old I was hooked, “What are these people doing? What’s up with all the socks? Who puts a wall up in the middle of a city? And why?”
I remember the first time I went to Germany.
Got on a train from Belgium – where I’d had more than enough waffles and was counting the days to go to Deutschland. The first stop out of Belgium is Aachen. Where suddenly train stations are called ‘Hof Bahnhofs’(?) not ‘Gares' and the trains are all dead on time, to the milli-second.
If not, there’s a riot on the platform. A late train constitutes to public outrage.
There're gothic cathedrals amongst little houses where people are…GERMAN. Real German people – and check it out – they’re not in Cape Town all at once. After all.
Cologne was a peach, the sun was shining, and I’d like to think just for me. Everyone was out drinking Kölsche by the Rhine, sun tanning in the parks, or sitting in the large platz drinking more beer.
While a woman dressed like Fraulein Maria would play an accordion dangerously close to the table while you try not to go instantaneously mental.
Drank copious Kölsches after the best hangover meal I’ve ever consumed – a schnitzel the size of a Volvo, 8000 potatoes and a ladle of sauerkraut. Instant relief.
Went to the chocolate museum, ate a shitload of that, walked the cobbled streets and bought a lot of cologne.
I’m a marketer’s dream – sell me Cologne in Cologne; it’s gonna be an easy sell.
And I won’t buy one, I’ll buy 6. Six bottles of cologne that I still find floating about my handbag. Four years later.
Yeah, the cologne was meant to be unisexual. And yet, strangely, when I wear it, I smell like a man. A very muscular, adventure-doing, rugged specimen of a man.
But I bought 6, so I’ll be damned if they think they got me.
I’ll use ‘em all.
That’ll show them.
Where was I? Besides the picturesque, rich, western German towns, with huge factories dotted in the middle of nowhere, I went through the Rhine Westphalia, and now I’m going to REAL Germany.
Du hast wonderschöne augen. Wo ist der U-Bahn, liebschen? Nein, echt?